Reading the Church Fathers discussion

On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings
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Maximos the Confessor > Ad Thalassium 2 (God is still working)

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message 1: by Clark (last edited May 18, 2020 08:28AM) (new) - added it

Clark Wilson | 586 comments I'm going to post a passage from the first paragraph of M's response, because it contains an important idea that is new to me -- that God is assimilating particulars to universals and when He's done "there shall be no intentional divergence between universals and particulars." What "intentional" means here I don't yet know.

"Even now in his providence he is bringing about the assimilation of particulars to universals until he might unite creatures’ own voluntary inclination to the more universal natural principle of rational being through the movement of these particular creatures toward well-being (τὸ εὖ εἶναι), and make them harmonious and self-moving in relation to one another and to the whole universe. In this way there shall be no intentional divergence between universals and particulars. Rather, one and the same principle shall be observable throughout the universe, admitting of no differentiation by the individual modes according to which created beings are predicated, and displaying the grace of God effective to deify the universe."

St Maximus the Confessor. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: pp. 99–100

In my own conceptual universe this is a huge thing because Aristotle makes the distinction foundational: philosophy (say) is about universals, ethics and politics (say) are about particulars.

It's not necessarily true that Maximus is using the terms the way Aristotle does. That remains to be seen. In this post I'm merely explaining why in my conceptual universe assimilating particulars to universals is a Big Thing. I'm not making claims about Maximus yet.


message 2: by Clark (new) - added it

Clark Wilson | 586 comments (The scary thing is that God assimilating the particulars to the universals makes good sense to me.)


message 3: by Clark (last edited May 28, 2020 02:02PM) (new) - added it

Clark Wilson | 586 comments This short question & response sure looks like a zinger.

Here is the question:

"If the Creator made all the forms which fill out the world in six days (cf Gen 1:31–2:2), what is the Father doing henceforth? For the Savior says, My Father is working even now, just as I am working (Jn 5:17). Is he therefore speaking of a preservation of what he had once created?" (p. 99)


message 4: by Clark (last edited May 28, 2020 02:35PM) (new) - added it

Clark Wilson | 586 comments Okay, here is a question. It may be unanswerable from this short text, but:

Is Maximus overall in this passage talking about now, or about the End Times, or both of those, or neither of them?

Part of the text is in the future tense; part of it is in the present tense. The tenses may be important or they could be a side product of the Greek-to-English translation or they could be in something like the "prophetic present". Ideas?

FWIW, in Biblical Hebrew there is something called "the prophetic past tense."


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